Unlike several predecessors, new BSA Chief Scout Executive (CSE) Bob Mazzuca appears to understand his customer. Finally, we might have gotten the right guy in the big camp chair in Irving.
Despite taking office only 14 days ago, he’s already made a TV appearance on a Dallas opinion piece, and appeared in an early September Forbes interview, where he shared his views about what Scouting.
Mazzuca’s Forbes interview wasn’t full of the “Timeless Values” stuff that bores boys to tears (despite attracting donors and parents). Instead, he said this when Forbes asked “AS THE NEWLY APPOINTED CHIEF SCOUT EXECUTIVE, WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO DIFFERENTLY TO DRAW MORE SCOUTS TO THE ORGANIZATION?”
We have to become more effective in the use of technology and in the whole world of cyberspace. MySpace, YouTube–places like that where kids spend an inordinate amount of time engaging with each other and engaging with ideas. We have not been particularly effective in being creative in that arena and my goal short-term and intermediate term is the drive to understand that world to the point where we could actually participate in the dialogue that happens there.
However, the magic of scouting begins outdoors. Challenging them both physically and mentally teaches them leadership skills. You can’t do that in a virtual environment. But if where they are right now is in that virtual world, then the best chance of having them come with us on this adventure in the outdoors is to figure out how to deal in that world.
It’s Marketing 101, folks – Fish where the fish are.
Later, Mazzuca talks about a secret – which he then reveals to Forbes…right where many of his target audience will see it.
I have this vision that I am secretly unleashing. We need to re-engage our alumni. There are millions and millions of people involved in scouting and who’ve had a wonderful experience in scouting. I have this vision of the largest gathering of Eagle Scouts in the history of mankind on The Mall in Washington, D.C., prior to the jamboree, where we invite every Eagle Scout to come and rededicate themselves to the principles of scouting in 2010.
To that end, we’re launching a major Eagle Scout search. Say we want a few “bald eagles.” We want to bring them home.
Once again, fishing where the fish are.
More importantly, Mazzuca even seems to be willing to take his case to the TV camera.
In the past, the only TV interviews coming out of BSA headquarters seemed to consist of a “no comment” or a litany of “may as well be no comment” comments from BSA mouthpiece Gregg Shields (note to the new CSE: get rid of the PR hacks) – and then, only when Scouting was in the news for less than positive reasons. Even in the face of all the troubles with lawsuits, Jamboree problems (remember the heat during the President’s visit?) and so on – you never saw a CSE.
He got a little help from Dallas’ Tracy Rowlett. Rowlett is the news anchor for Dallas’ CBS affiliate, KTVT. This week, Rowlett’s “Perspective” piece took a contrarian view to most of the national media pieces we see about Scouting these days. Remember, CBS was the network that first broke the story about the Seattle court order to turn over piles of old records about 5,000 adults kicked out of (or denied access to) Scouting. News that needed to be reported – and recently lamented about here because of Irving’s weak-kneed response.
During Rowlett’s piece, we see a bit of Mazzuca’s feel for the real value of the program to the country’s youth, as well as what a CSE (CEO) should have been saying in public, out loud, all along.
Somebody give Bob Mazzuca a pole, he knows where to fish.
So…where are YOUR fish?